Today I traversed the icy paths of Central Park in the direction of the Upper East Side (UES) to see how the other half lives…
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Quite possibly one of my favorite places in Manhattan. Not only is it located right in Central Park and that the Gossip Girls fight to sit on its top steps, The Met is also home to more than 2 million works of art from around the world, and covers everything from prehistoric cypriotic art to medieval and baroque paintings to neoclassic statues to far east ceramics to modern photography and everything in between. The Met has something to tickle everyone’s artsy inclination. But by far, my heart weeps for Camille Pissarro and Titian. Both painters, but from different time periods. This is my favorite piece by Titian entitled Venus and Adonis.
According to myth, the goddess Venus seduces a young mortal named Adonis to save him from imminent death. This painting depicts the scene in which Venus tries to restrain young (and inexperienced!!) Adonis, who is eager to leave her side for a boar-hunt. References to this story are littered throughout literature, and Shakespeare does a fantastic job illustrating it.
With this she seizeth on his sweating palm,
The precedent of pith and livelihood,
And trembling in her passion, calls it balm,
Earth’s sovereign salve to do a goddess good:
Being so enraged, desire doth lend her force
Courageously to pluck him from his horse.
Over one arm the lusty courser’s rein,
Under her other was the tender boy,
Who blush’d and pouted in a dull disdain,
With leaden appetite, unapt to toy;
She red and hot as coals of glowing fire,
He red for shame, but frosty in desire.
The studded bridle on a ragged bough
Nimbly she fastens: O, how quick is love!
The steed is stalled up, and even now
To tie the rider she begins to prove:
Backward she push’d him, as she would be thrust,
And govern’d him in strength, though not in lust.
The full text of the poem can be found here, and both the painting and the poem are poignant and emotive. To a certain extent, I can understand Venus’ urgency and need to protect Adonis, despite his nonchalance. I think any woman can understand that actually… After the Met, I was hungry and so met up with my good friend Steph in pursuit of deliciousness.
La Maison du Chocolat
1018 Madison Ave @ 78th Street
New York, NY 10075
In my humble opinion, Maison du Chocolat was NOT WORTH IT. Beautiful retail store displays and decadent chocolate, but $50 for a half pound (Coffret Maison) of pralines and ganaches is ridiculous!! They ARE good – rich, creamy, and just the most subtle aftertaste of cocoa on your tongue. BUT are they worth the pricetag? I’m not so sure… Also, Stephanie and I each bought a box of 6 French macarons for $15, and was a bit disappointed in the quality. The flavors are flatter than I’m used to (hello Pierre Herme!), the shell lacking in tenderness.
Payard Francois’ Chocolate Bar
The Plaza Hotel, Concourse Level
5th Ave at Central Park South
New York, New York 10019
I’m not sure why Payard closed his UES bakery (thank goodness there’s still one in Soho) and instead downgraded to this tiny Chocolate Bar located on the ground floor of the Plaza Hotel, but being soo disappointed at Maison, we walked the 20 blocks to cleanse our mouths with hopefully better macarons. And I do not regret the 20 block trek in subfreezing temperatures. We ordered a hot chocolate, macarons, and the Tout Chocolat, a signature Francois Payard dessert of dark chocolate sabayon (very light, airy moussey/custard), fleur de sel, chocolate macaron and chocolate mousse. And it was to die for! Silky sabayon and mousse paired with crisp layer of chocolate macaron shell and chocolate disk, make this a sinfully decadent and outstanding dessert. Also, the macarons (chocolate and passion fruit) here were infinitely better than at Maison – bright and bold flavors, soft and tender shells with that beautifully soft crunch when you first bite into it. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but when I visit the Soho bakery, I’ll update this post, promise.
I spent such a productive Thursday roaming the UES. I got to dabble in their exquisite food and gawk at their gorgeous designer retail store windows. If you get a chance, a walk down Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue in the UES are a must. Tons of shops and cute cafes and restaurants to try out. Not to forget the miles of museums along 5th Avenue, parallel to Central Park – that part of 5th Ave is even nicknamed Museum Mile. So, when in the UES, do as the Upper Eastsiders do and live the good life.